gerard

Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
Columbia University

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I am an Assistant Professor in Sociology at Columbia University and a member of the Data Science Institute. I use causal inference and machine learning to conduct research on urban inequality, violence, and public health. My work has been published in the American Sociological Review, Child Development, Demography, Eastern Economic Journal, Housing Policy Debate, the Journal of Housing Economics, the Journal of Urban Economics, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Findings from my research have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and CityLab.
I received my PhD in Sociology from New York University in 2019, a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2014, and a BS in Engineering from Polytechnic University of Catalonia in 2004. Before graduate school, I was a firefighter at Barcelona Fire Department.

 

News and Updates

• 12-2020: My article “Using Machine Learning to Estimate the Effect of Racial Segregation on COVID-19 Mortality in the United States” has been accepted at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
• 07-2020: I started as an Assistant Professor in Sociology at Columbia University.
• 01-2020: My article “Crime and Inequality in Academic Achievement Across School Districts in the United States” has been published in Demography.
• 07-2019: I started as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Data Science Institute.

Recent Publications

This study examines the role that racial residential segregation has played in shaping the spread of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US as of September 30, 2020. The analysis focuses on the effects of racial residential segregation on mortality and infection rates for the overall population and on racial and ethnic mortality gaps. To account for potential confounding, I assemble a data set that includes 50 county-level factors that are potentially related to residential segregation and COVID-19 infection and mortality rates.
This study investigates the effect of violent crime on school district–level achievement in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The research design exploits variation in achievement and violent crime across 813 school districts in the United States and seven birth cohorts of children born between 1996 and 2002. The identification strategy leverages exogenous shocks to crime rates arising from the availability of federal funds to hire police officers in the local police departments where the school districts operate.

Eastern Economic Journal, 2020 (with Ingrid Ellen)

Using restricted administrative data on the voucher program, we examine the experience of voucher holders in metropolitan areas with rising rents. While some of our models suggest that rising rents in metropolitan areas are associated with a slight increase in rent-to-income ratios among voucher holders, poor renters in general see significantly larger increases in rent-to-income ratios. We see little evidence that rising rents push voucher holders to worse neighborhoods, with voucher holders in central cities ending up in lower poverty neighborhoods as rents rise.
The housing choice voucher program aims to reduce housing cost burdens as well as to enable recipients to move to a broader diversity of neighborhoods. Prior evidence shows voucher recipients still end up in neighborhoods with relatively high poverty rates and low performing schools. These constrained neighborhood choices can in part be attributed to landlord discrimination and the geographic concentration of units that rent below voucher caps. In this paper, we consider an additional explanation: the role of information and social influence in determining the effective set of potential housing choices.
On the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, long-time residents of cities across the country feel increasingly anxious that they will be priced out of their homes and communities, as growing numbers of higher-income, college-educated households opt for downtown neighborhoods. These fears are particularly acute among black and Latino residents. Yet when looking through the lens of fair housing, gentrification also offers a potential opportunity, as the moves that higher-income, white households make into predominantly minority, lower-income neighborhoods are moves that help to integrate those neighborhoods, at least in the near term.